© Steve Roberts - All Rights reserved
The couple walks into my office. She is obviously hurt and angry. He
has the look of angry confusion. She blurts out her discovery that he
uses pornography. She feels as though he's been cheating on her. She
feels betrayed. She finds the whole thing repulsive. How could he do
this to her?
He is ashamed on one level. On another level, it seems the most natural
thing in the world. He's always looked at bodies. He has always had
fantasies, and he can now see pictures and films just like them on the
internet. His friends do it. The guys in the locker room talk about it.
What's so wrong with it?
situation occurs with surprising frequency. Couples are angry and
confused about what to do with it all and about what it really means.
They feel terribly hurt and misunderstood. They'd like some answers
instead of just blaming each other. So, here's some things to consider.
1. Any problem for a couple is a "team" problem. If one person hurts,
the "team" has a problem. If one person is angry, then the "team" has a
problem to resolve. It's not a competition where one wins and the other
loses. It is about the "team" winning as a whole.
The pornagraphy issue is the same. The couple needs to find a way that
meets the needs of both people, so that the team wins.
2. Men and women have very different training and understanding of
sexuality. Women are raised to focus much more on the relational
aspects, while men grew up learning to focus on the visual and physical
experience, often to the exclusion of relationship.
In a culture that makes use of women's bodies to advertise and sell
just about everything, women easily come to believe that they are only
valued for their physical attractiveness. Many already feel ashamed of
their bodies, believing they're supposed to be shaped like teenage
boys. In their most intimate and important relationship they so desire
to be loved and accepted for who they are, not what they look like. It
comes as a very rude surprise to realize that their man seems to be
just like all the others.
Men, take note. When your partner's dream bubble is burst in this
fashion, you have to take action, or it is downhill from there.
As described above, men are trained to feel both guilty about
pornography, and to accept it as the norm. They see it as a simple
release mechanism, and not as cheating, betraying, or even having any
real meaning at all. They are drawn to the relationality of their
women, but often do not really understand it, let alone understand that
pornography can damage it.
3. From a functional standpoint, here's the real problem with
pornography: It seduces a man away from emotional intimacy with his
partner. This doesn't have to be the case, but it occurs so often that
I tend to assume it is happening until proven otherwise.
The seduction is one of easy avoidance. There is no relationship to
take care of or nurture. One doesn't have to live with the complaints
or even the mistaken dreams of the fantasy figures. Worse still, the
images are ever changing, ever titilating. Life at home with the same
woman, the same old positions, and the same old timing can seem rather
The problem with pornography is that men do not learn to develop the
ability to be highly stimulated by deep emotional intimacy with their
one, special partner.
A successful team helps both partners learn to be intensely intimate
with one another, and then intensely stimulated sexually. Pornagraphy
offers the stimulation while avoiding the real reward of intimate
closeness in the relationship.
So, how do such couples handle this dilemma? At their best they use it
as a vehicle to move them to an ever deeper level of contact with each
other. They move past blaming and misunderstanding to acceptance of the
other's gender and training. They come up with behavior that works for
both of them and that they can both agree to and live with.
Ultimately, it can be a journey of emotional intimacy that ends up
being one huge "turn on."
Steve is an experienced
Family Therapist who shares tips and real life
relationship secrets from over 20
practice. Married 31 years to Pam, his
partner in life and
profession, he has
personally known the peaks
and valleys of the
also publishes self-improvement articles at his local blog: Colorado
Springs Counselor, mental health articles another of his
local blogs: Colorado Springs
Counseling, and marriage articles at Colorado
Springs Marriage Counseling.
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